Friday, July 4, 2014

He Called It "Rachel's Mama"

I know I have many MANY more notes... cards... letters... emails... and even phone calls from random people I had never met and have never heard from again... all telling me what a profound impact Rachel had on them through me.  Almost every one of them has left me in tears.  It's amazing.

I know that each and every person touched by her life and death were in actuality touched by the Spirit of God.  I could feel Him working in every fiber of my being since the first day we got her diagnosis.  And while I feel like I've already said a million ways how Rachel has impacted ME, I feel like it would not be a good Mama thing to do, to be posting all about her impact on others and not say something myself.

I've been struggling with some serious writers block lately, so I feel unable to express it in words... but again, I can't not try. And I'm sure this won't scratch the surface, but here it goes...

If I was to tell you that Rachel had an amazing, unbelievable, beautifully painful and completely life changing affect on my life... that would be an understatement.

I'll start first with the fact that before Rachel, I not only struggled with my trust in God and believing He has my best interest in mind at ALL times... but I also constantly doubted my salvation.  I would read the scripture that talks about testing yourself to see if you are really of the faith and I would wonder... How on earth could a Holy God love ME?  To really know me to the core and love me fully - enough to send His Son to die for me?  It just didn't seem possible. And why did anyone need to die anyway? It didn't make sense. And heaven seemed like a great idea, but real?  Hard to grasp.

When I walked out of my ultrasound on August 4, 2010, the first words out of my mouth were "This is what He was preparing me for."  It was as if in that very instant, I could see all the flashes of the weeks and months leading up to that day - and He had absolutely prepared me!  What a humbling and awe inspiring idea... that the King of the Universe is that mindful of me.  And from that day until this, I have been so certain of my God's faithfulness and love... proven over and over again... and I have been so certain of my true and genuine faith in Him... proven over and over again as I have had nowhere else I wanted to turn.  As He called me to empty myself... my heart... my arms... and give it all over to Him, He has also granted me the ability to do it... the strength, the grace, the peace and joy in the midst of deep sorrow.  As He carried me when I was too broken to walk alone.

Carrying Rachel as I waited for her death was the hardest thing I've ever done.  Each kick and turn made my heart ache with a pain I could never describe in words.  Picking out her grave, her burial outfit, her funeral program... before I ever saw her face was something I cannot even write without crying, still to this day.  It was the heaviest and most intense burden I have ever carried in my life.  And with each "When are you due?"  or "Do you know what you're having?"  I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare and I would beg to wake up... let it all be a dream... how can it be real?

But along the road of bittersweet, something happened.  I am no longer the person who walked into that ultrasound that day.  I'm not the person who left my house that morning.  Our kids got a different mother - Matt got a different wife - my mom and dad got a different daughter - my sister and brother, a different sister - my friends...a different friend.  And although, at times, I miss feeling lighter and more carefree... I don't think it's a bad thing that the Stacy Aube of August 3, 2010 has been replaced.

I have been broken down to the point of complete surrender.  I had nowhere I could go and not a thing I could do to change it or control it or to fix it... I had to sit in it and feel it.  And bit by bit as it tore me apart, God worked on each and every detail like he was fine tuning His masterpiece... and He called it Rachel's Mama.

When I call myself Rachel's Mama - it is so much more than a title to that little girl.  "Rachel's Mama" is to me the beauty God can make out of ashes.  "Rachel's Mama" is a place in His arms where I am sheltered from the storm.  "Rachel's Mama" is the reminder of Who is in charge of life and death and that we don't always get what we want.  "Rachel's Mama" is seeing perfect in her like God does.  It's being honored to be part of His eternal purposes and believing in their beauty, even when it hurts. "Rachel's Mama" is the way my Great God comforts and is close to the brokenhearted.  "Rachel's Mama" is how He proved to me that heaven is real... that He always provides... that I am His daughter... and that salvation has been given to me... for keeps....eternally.  "Rachel's Mama" is a name that means so much more to me than what I am to her... It's a name that speaks of who she is to me - and who I am to God - and who she is to God.... it's His work of art... sometimes messy, but always working towards the final masterpiece.  (We're talking oil on canvas - not Photoshop here)

Because I know with everything I am that there was absolutely no mistake - nor was it by 'chance' - that God made me Rachel's Mama.  The last 4 years have been hard.  They've been painful.  They've brought judgement and pity and misunderstanding.  They've brought loneliness and heartache.  But I would do it all over again.

Whenever I say those words, I always ask myself... Would I do it all over again if I could go back and keep her instead?  Would I *really* do it again if given the chance not to live without her?

And if I had to try to put into words the most profound affect that Rachel has had on me, this would be it.... because the biggest and most important change in me since I got her diagnosis is that I wholeheartedly desire what God wants for me in my life.  And even when it's hard... even when I don't like it... even when it hurts like hell and seems unending.... I know that my God is working ALL things together for my good and His glory.

And those are not words I say because they sound good and are the 'right' thing to say.  I still struggle with disappointment and questions, but I know with all that I am that God is taking care of me always.  And that He will never fail me. And I'm okay with the fact that I might not always like it and that often I will have to surrender to plans that if up to me, I wouldn't pick.  But I know that they are better.

Yesterday I put on my Rachel's Mama shirt to go out and put up signs for her race.  I like to represent, you know? :)  But after I threw my hair up in a clip, I used a mirror to look at it and I noticed that part of my tattoo sticks out of the neck of my shirt.

It was the first time I noticed that "Eternally" was all you could see above a t-shirt - and seeing it next to "Rachel's Mama" felt meaningful, so I had Des take a photo.... as I sit here tonight, I realize that I had no idea what I was going to write when I sat down 30 minutes ago... but the picture keeps coming to mind now...  I am eternally Rachel's Mama.

The rest of the tattoo, for those who don't know, says "Dancing Eternally in His Love" and I got it because that's what it says on her headstone... it's how I picture her... dancing forever with Jesus... At her ultrasound before we knew anything was wrong, they told us she was a girl and that she was moving a lot.  I said through happy tears "She likes to dance just like her mama!"  And the whole time I carried her, that little girl moved.  She was always twirling around and I will always think of her as my little dancer.

Rachel has taught me how to dance in the rain....not just in the sun. As a matter of fact, yesterday when we went to leave to put the signs up, it started to rain as we left and I told the kids "We've danced through worse rain that this before!  Let's get these signs out there, a little rain never killed anyone...."  and so we did... yesterday and today - put race signs everywhere, wearing my Rachel's Mama shirt, as it rained on us the whole time.  Before Rachel, that rain would have kept me home.  I would have waited for another, more sunny day.  But now I know you don't always get another day.  Better circumstances don't always come.  Time isn't always on our side.  And a Mama has to do what a Mama has to do.... even when it rains.

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